This week Tim and I worked on compound words. Unfortunately the spelling book from which we're working is slightly out of date...it calls some things two words which are now generally accepted as one, and hyphenates some words (such as baby-sitter) which no longer require them.
But there are some common words about which there is no question and which mark a writer as either polished or careless. And because you don't want to be marked as careless...
W.O.W. to the rescue!
Here's one that bothers me (and Val B., who asked that I do this one) alot.
Did you catch it?
Dear readers, there is no such word as "alot." Please give us a little space...in between the "a" and the "l." This will please me a lot.
Just as important is the ubiquitous "alright." No such thing. This one is a little easier to understand, as we tend to transfer patterns between words where we shouldn't, and I am guessing that because it is correct to write "already," we assume that "alright" is all right. It's not. It's all wrong. Two words, no hyphen.
And may I confuse you just a bit more? Already is an adverb, as in "She has already eaten breakfast." The adverb answers the question, "When?" about the verb "eaten." But there is another form, nearly indistinguishable in speech yet different in spelling and in grammatical function. If I ask you if you're ready, you might answer, "Yes, I'm all ready!" In this construction, ready is the predicate adjective and all is an adverb modifying ready. In this case, it is two words.
[Note to those of you using the Spelling Power curriculum: there are many, many obsolete forms in the book (T.V.--please do not use periods any longer) or forms which are now perfectly acceptable to write another way. I don't know if these have been updated in the latest edition, but watch out for them and don't penalize your students for using the now commonly accepted forms, such as TV and babysitter. If it doesn't look right to you, verify it in an up-to-date source.]